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Diet Pepsi quietly changes sweetener

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm •  Published: December 16, 2012
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The move to improve Diet Pepsi comes amid a broader push by PepsiCo to boost sales of its flagship soda. Under pressure from investors, CEO Indra Nooyi earlier this year announced the company would step up investment in its flagship brands.

Already this year, PepsiCo has made several splashy moves including a wide-ranging partnership with singer Beyonce and a multiyear deal with the National Football League to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show. TV ads for Pepsi have also featured singer Nicki Minaj, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the boy band One Direction and international soccer stars including Lionel Messi.

Whether the efforts will pay off with increased sales remains to be seen. In the latest quarter, PepsiCo said its soda volume in North America fell 2 percent, reflecting the broader decline in soft drink consumption that has plagued the industry since 1998. But the company noted that its share of the market had improved.

For now, Diet Pepsi remains the No. 7 carbonated soft drink with 4.9 percent of the market, according to Beverage Digest. That's down from 5.3 percent in 2000. Meanwhile, Diet Coke's share has increased in that time from 8.7 percent to 9.6 percent. Diet Coke, which still only uses aspartame, overtook regular Pepsi to become the No. 2 soda brand in 2010.

Coke remains No. 1 and Pepsi is No. 3.

Still, Diet Pepsi rakes in roughly $5 billion in a year in revenue and remains one of PepsiCo's biggest moneymakers. The company, based in Purchase, N.Y., also makes Frito-Lay snacks, Tropicana juices and Quaker oatmeal.

It's not the first time a soda company is tweaking the sweeteners in its drinks; PepsiCo made a similar move with Diet Mountain Dew in 2006, while Coca-Cola did the same with Diet Sprite in 2000.

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Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi